In many US states and the District of Columbia, recreational marijuana has been legalized. Many more states have legalized medical marijuana, even traditionally conservative states such as Arizona and, recently, Oklahoma.
In Texas, however, we tend to go our own way, and marijuana laws have been no exception. Despite changing attitudes nationally, marijuana remains very much illegal in the state of Texas, with harsh penalties for possession of even small amounts.
However, advocates for marijuana legalization are currently speculating that Texas may be moving towards more relaxed marijuana laws, and potentially towards statewide decriminalization. Although legalization for recreational use remains unlikely in the near term, both political parties support loosening the restrictions on marijuana.
That’s for the future, though. In the meantime, Texans still face very harsh drug crime penalties for marijuana possession and distribution, so you need to be aware of the laws surrounding the drug. Below, we discuss what decriminalization would mean, and also the penalties for marijuana-related drug crimes.
What Is Marijuana Decriminalization, and What Are the Benefits for Texans?
Essentially, decriminalization would make possession of under one ounce of marijuana for personal use a civil, rather than criminal, offense. Violators would be issued a ticket rather than facing criminal charges.
Why is this a good thing?
Texas prisons are already overcrowded with nonviolent drug crime offenders, as are court dockets. In fact, the majority of Texas drug crime cases are related to marijuana.
Decriminalization would lessen the burden on the criminal justice system, all while helping thousands of Texans avoid a criminal record for what most agree is a minor offense.
Again, though, that’s for the future. If you are caught with marijuana right now, you need to know what you’re going to be up against.
Marijuana Possession Penalties in Texas
As with any drug crime, marijuana possession is sentenced and penalized based on the amount of substance offenders are found to be in possession of.
Sentencing and penalties for marijuana possession are as follows:
- <2 ounces: Misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines.
- 2-4 ounces: Misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and $4,000 in fines.
- 4 ounces-5 pounds: Felony punishable by 180 days-2 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
- 5-50 pounds: Felony punishable by 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- 50-2000 pounds: Felony punishable by 2-20 years in prison and fine up to $10,000.
- >2000 pounds: Felony punishable by 5-99 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
For possession of 4 ounces or more, you will be imprisoned for at least the mandatory minimums listed above.
Importantly, cultivation of marijuana is penalized in the same manner as possession. You will not face drug manufacture charges for cultivating marijuana for personal use.
How Texas Handles Penalties for the Sale of Marijuana
Marijuana sale is penalized by the amount of marijuana you allegedly sold or intended to sell. In other words, a sale doesn’t actually need to take place to be charged with this crime as long as the prosecution can prove intent.
Sentencing and penalties for marijuana sale are as follows:
- 7 grams or less with no remuneration: Misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000.
- 7 grams or less with remuneration: Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and fines up to $4,000.
- 7 grams-5 pounds: Felony punishable by 180 days – 2 years incarceration and up to $10,000 in fines.
- 5-50 pounds: Felony punishable by 2-20 years incarceration and up to $10,000 in fines.
- 50-2000 pounds: Felony punishable by 5-99 years incarceration and up to $10,000 in fines.
- 2000+ pounds: Felony punishable by 10-99 years incarceration and up to $100,000 in fines.
For sale of 7 grams or more you will be incarcerated for at least the mandatory minimums listed above.
Also, sale of any amount of marijuana to a minor is a felony, punishable by 2-20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Differences for Marijuana Concentrates in Texas
Importantly, Texas differs from many other states in that marijuana concentrates are considered a separate drug. Possession of any amount of a marijuana concentrate is a felony.
Also, many marijuana users prefer to make their own concentrates. This is considered drug manufacture, even if the concentrate was a very small amount intended for your own personal use.
Possession of hash and marijuana concentrates is sentenced and penalized as follows:
- >1 gram: Felony punishable by 180 days-2 years imprisonment and fines of up to $10,000.
- 1-4 grams: Felony punishable by 2-10 years incarceration and up to $10,000 in fines.
- 4-400 grams: Felony punishable by 2-20 years incarceration and up to $10,000 in fines.
- 400+ grams: Felony punishable by 10 years-life imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.
Bottom line? Despite relaxing attitudes towards marijuana nationally and a potential move towards decriminalization in Texas, marijuana possession currently remains a quite serious drug crime charge.
If you are facing marijuana-related drug crime charges, it is imperative to take this matter seriously, and be proactive in fighting back to beat your charges.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.